cyn·​ic | \ ˈsi-nik How to pronounce cynic (audio) \

Definition of cynic

1 : a faultfinding captious critic especially : one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest Of course, there will always be cynics when companies make good-faith apologies and seek to follow through. — Andrew Ross Sorkin
2 capitalized : an adherent of an ancient Greek school of philosophers who held the view that virtue is the only good and that its essence lies in self-control and independence

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Other Words from cynic

cynic adjective

Did You Know?

The ancient Greece school of philosophers known as Cynics was founded by Antisthenes, a contemporary of Plato. Antisthenes is said to have taught at a gymnasium outside Athens called the Kynosarges, from which the name of the school, kynikoi, literally, “doglike ones,” may be derived. On the other hand, the name is most closely associated with the most famous Cynic philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes rejected social conventions and declared that whatever was natural and easy could not be indecent and therefore can and should be done in public. This shamelessness earned him the Greek epithet ho kyōn, “the dog.” In English, however, cynic and cynical have more to do with distrust of motives than shamelessness.

Examples of cynic in a Sentence

He's too much of a cynic to see the benefits of marriage. A cynic might think that the governor visited the hospital just to gain votes. Reporters who cover politics often become cynics.
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Recent Examples on the Web As the historian Ulrich Lehner’s book The Catholic Enlightenment (2016) showed, alongside the cynics and sloths, serious Catholic intellectuals of the period attempted to do justice to Catholic tradition and modern understanding. David P. Deavel, National Review, "Catholicism Confronts Modernity," 24 Oct. 2019 Very quickly, very naturally, the romantic-cynic in me melted. Alyssa Shelasky, New York Times, "Surviving the First Trimester, With and Without a Man," 15 Apr. 2020 Perry had one message for cynics (in case there were any). Thatiana Diaz,, "Katy Perry Looks So Different After Her Latest Hair Makeover," 24 Feb. 2020 One option, of course, is to simply steer clear of the cynics. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "The secret to dealing with cynics at work," 24 Jan. 2020 As a patriotic cynic like Mr. Trump would also realize better than most, the U.S. is the U.S., and Saudi Arabia is Saudi Arabia. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "On Saudi Arabia, Trump Has a Clue," 23 Nov. 2018 Indeed, cynics will note that many of the reforms being chalked up to the deal had already started, raising questions about whether the nearly two-year-long trade battle has made much difference. The Economist, "Trade truce The ceasefire in the trade war between America and China is fragile," 18 Dec. 2019 Despite this kind of outreach, cynics gripe that the Shed is nothing more than an amenity for Hudson Yards. Chloe Malle, Town & Country, "Is the Shed the Defining Arts Institution of a New New York City?," 14 Mar. 2019 Houston’s induction would open the door for other pop stars some cynics might call torch singers. cleveland, "Rock Hall 2020: Will Whitney Houston and Biggie both be inducted?," 8 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cynic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cynic

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for cynic

Middle French or Latin, Middle French cynique, from Latin cynicus, from Greek kynikos, literally, like a dog, from kyn-, kyōn dog — more at hound

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Time Traveler for cynic

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The first known use of cynic was in 1542

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Last Updated

7 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cynic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for cynic


How to pronounce cynic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cynic

: a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do especially : a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves

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More from Merriam-Webster on cynic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cynic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cynic

Spanish Central: Translation of cynic

Nglish: Translation of cynic for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cynic

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